Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War

The war reading continues... unending... forever?

And I'm worn out.

But I can also say that Dexter Filkins' The Forever War is an amazing book. A stunner. A sometimes viscerally shaking book; rattling but never confusing. The numerous laudatory reviews are spot on, and the awards are well-earned.

There is little I can add other than to encourage you to read this book. I'd demand you do so if I could.

Filkins is no expert and he doesn't pretend as much. Nor does he cop an attitude of faux naivete. Instead we follow along with a working journalist trying to understand what the hell is going on: curious, weary, numb, both foolish and foolhardy, sometimes laugh out loud funny. In both Afghanistan (to open the book, the shorter of the two parts) and Iraq (a war that has now largely dropped off our collective radar, with the exception of the occasional "boom!").

We are in the moment; these are snapshots, almost. Sometimes no real narrative structure other than the mere fact of Filkins telling a story, presenting a scene. Just war. Grinding through a landscape and people. No discernible beginning, no ultimate end. Forever.

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